Cheer On the May Mix Off Finalists on Wednesday, May 27 at the JW Marriott, LA Live

Leo Rivas from Normandie Club shaking things up

Leo Rivas from Normandie Club shaking things up


Finals for the William Grant and Son’s May Mix-Off is this coming Wednesday, May 27. The finals begin at 7 p.m. at the Mixing Room, the bar inside the JW Marriott at LA Live.

I attended this week’s competition and was pleasantly surprised by the new format. They weren’t kidding about the free samples. All the bartenders prepared their drink for the crowd as well as the esteemed panel of judges. Each week, there are 9 competitors of whom four were selected to battle out the second round. They had to come up with a cocktail on the fly based on a mystery, secret ingredient. Last week it was Glenfiddich Scotch and this week was Montelobos Mezcal.

making Elements from finalist Tony G of Gallery Bar & Cognac Room (the Biltmore Hotel)

making herb bubbles for Elements, from finalist Tony G of Gallery Bar & Cognac Room (the Biltmore Hotel)


A total of 18 bartenders competed these last two weeks for the grand prize which is a trip to Tales of the Cocktail. Tony G. from the Gallery Bar and Cognac Room at the Biltmore Hotel and Daniel Sabo from the Ace Hotel won this week’s competition. They along with the first week’s winners Joshua Yerkey (EMC Seafood) and Una Green (Belcampo) will compete on Wednesday.

Tony’s Elements  drink was a crowd favorite featuring Hendrick’s, sun-aged Lillet Blanc syrup, Marasca cherry syrup, basil-infused St. Germain, lemon, Angostura bitters  as well the dramatic herb-infused air bubbles.

Daniel Sabo from the Ace explaining his drink to the judges

Daniel Sabo from the Ace explaining his drink to the judges


Daniel Sabo from the Ace Hotel also thrilled the judges with his drink, the Royal Enfield which includes Hendrick’s gin, milk-washed apricot-gin cordial, sherry, lavender bitters, rose water, Maldon salt solution and sage smoke.

From the first week, Joshau’s WGS Express sounded equally amazing with Tullamore Dew 12 Year Special Reserve Irish whiskey, Ancho Reyes chili liqueur, Montelobos mezcal, demerara syrup, brown sugar, chocolate bitters, mole bitters which was topped off with a Sailor Jerry Foam (Sailor Jerry spiced rum, orgeat, vanilla bean, bourbon-smoked sugar, egg white, heavy cream, gelatin). It was then garnished with chili cinnamon chocolate, almonds and an orange twist. Josh later told me when he tasted the Glenfiddich, he got pineapple which he worked into a tiki-esque drink for his mystery challenge.

Una’s winning drink, The Angry Coconut, sounds delicious with Sailor Jerry, Ancho Reyes, homemade lemongrass coconut cream, pineapple juice, lime juice, saline and cinnamon.

Melaney Schmidt, the Standard with her Odd Botany

Melaney Schmidt (The Standard) with her Odd Botany


I really enjoyed Melaney Schmidt’s Hendrick’s gin punch called Odd Botany. It is a fairly easy recipe with Hendrick’s, fennel, lemon and cracked pepper syrup but what really makes it is the Sauvignon Blanc foam.

Brady Weise from Rathskeller

Brady Weise from Rathskeller


The crowd was encouraged to vote for their favorites and Brady Weise at the new Pasadena bar Rathskeller won my vote for his drink, The Midnight Sun. Featuring Reyka vodka, Lillet Blanc, simple syrup, basil, peach and lemon, it was the dreamy, sunny days of summer in a glass.

But my favorite presentation was Leo Rivas’ unnamed drink. His Reyka vodka sour with egg white, dill sugar, Szechuan pepper corn, citrus, bitters and crowning touch of Coors beer was simply fun. Leo prepared the Coors cans carefully before filling them with drinks for the judges.

EvanGinlist from Nima Jahromi, Perch

EvanGinlist from Nima Jahromi (Perch)


Between Tony’s Elements drink and Nima Jahromi’s drink, The EvanGinlist, the crowd was wildly entertained.

making drinks for the crowd

Nima Jahromi making drinks for the crowd


Nima told his story about the drink to everyone which includes how he loves whiskey and thought the EvanGinlist as a sort of gin Sazarac. It was super cool the Butterfly pea-infused Hendrick’s gin, cucumber-infused Montelobos, his own sage/saffron/cardamon bitters drink changed colors from bright blue to purple with a squeeze of lime.

It’ll be a good time on Wednesday, May 27. Don’t miss it!


May Mix-off Finals

May 27, 7-9 PM

Mixing Room at JW Marriott at LA Live

900 West Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90015  — (213) 765-8600

© The Minty 2015